Welcome to the Common Core Book Room

WARNING: This room is ah-mazing!  I know how lucky we are to have it, I talk more about how we can afford it near the bottom of this SUPER long post.  I can only take about 1% credit for its existence.  I was in charge of gathering, organizing and labeling the leveled readers.  I also put in my two cents about the unit theme boxes and was on the literacy committee that helped organize the Big Books.  The real credit goes to our two AWESOME instructional coaches that made this room look how it does today.  You may see some extra piles/boxes in some pictures, this is because we are constantly finding MORE books to put into this room.  Okay, so let's get acquainted!

For the last 6 years my school has used a Houghton Mifflin basal series (which we'll call HM from here on out).  My county purchased a large kit of HM so each teacher had a full pack of leveled readers. When we found out we were no long allowed to use HM and had to switch in to Common Core mode we didn't want to just throw these books away.  Especially because they are already leveled and we knew we would need some small group instruction books.  So, we collected ALL of them, they were all organized and put into the common core room! Here's how they look today. The levels correlate to Fountas and Pinnell, which is what we use since it also correlates to our Reading 3D mClass assessments. 

When organizing, our goal was to make it very easy for a teacher to walk in and find the genre/level/theme they were looking for.  You can see the box of clothes pins which is used to "check out" books. Whatever bag you take, you put a clothes pin on the box with your name so you know where to put it back when you're done. We have a few teachers who check on clothes pins that have been clipped for a long time and kindly remind those teachers to return books if they are done with them, so they don't end up in their rooms and are lost forever.  

There is so much organization here it makes my head spin. The color of the label matches the grade level that is appropriate for the books (these are the same colors on the grade level unit boxes a little ways down). 
Pink: Kindergarten
Goldenrod: 1st Grade
Blue: 2nd Grade
Green: 3rd Grade
Purple: 4th Grade
Yellow: 5th Grade

Here you'll see there are shapes on each label too.  Those shapes indicate fiction or non-fiction. When you get to the actual bag of books (which contain a set of 10-20),  it is broken down ever further. It's kinda like a secret code, check out the next picture to crack the code! (sorry for the glare!)

Here's a picture of what the label on each bag looks like.  Now this I can take credit for, I made ALL the labels.  I took me from January to June last year to do this.  It was quite an undertaking. The bags have even more shapes on them, below is a chart that explains those shapes.

How did we know how to organize all these leveled readers this way?  Well it turns out that HM has a nice little Reference Guide.  If you're wondering what it looks like, you can find one HERE and HERE.  The people at HM actually make it very nice to level their books. 

Okay so we have the leveled readers but that's not all!  Looking to teach a unit on animals?? The common core book room also has a science section (all the green labels are Science book sets)!

Want to teach a unit on American History?  We have a Social Studies section too (all the blue labels are S.S. book sets)!

Need a book on measurement for math?  We have math books too, leveled by topic and by grade level.

Back to ELA...We have a LARGE inventory of Big Books at our school.  Many were purchased through grants.  We have had some great grant writers over the 12 years my school has been open. They are now organized in the awesome common core room for easy access.

And there's more...

On top of each holder is a list of titles that work for different grade levels according to our ELA Units that I posted about yesterday.  Here's what that looks like up close.

Sticking with ELA, this is my FAVORITE part of the Common Core book room. The ELA Unit Theme boxes.  You saw the "main stories" that we used for each week of ELA instruction on our unit plans but this is where they are stored, ready for us to check out. 

Some boxes are missing because some grade levels have them, planning their instruction.  Each grade level was given a dollar amount to order books they wanted for these boxes at the beginning of the year.  (These are not the only books we have for ELA, the library keeps all the class sets of chapter books which have to be checked out through the media center but that's another post for another day) 

So these boxes are pretty amazing, let's open one up. 

Each box has a list of titles that are included, more titles have been added since these were typed but that's okay.  At some point we may update them but we haven't had much time for that! We have sets of books in the box (one per teacher) and we also have books that were ordered through Scholastic which match the standards that we will be teaching during the unit.  The sets of books are the title at the top of our unit plans.

Each box has a folder for the teachers to sign-out the books they want or need. We can sign-out books from other grade level boxes if we want to.  

And then we have books in the box that go well with the theme of our unit. Some leveled readers are in here too that match with the theme/standards we are teaching during this time.  The literacy committee at my school helped to stuff these boxes and set aside the leveled readers for the theme boxes instead of putting them in with the leveled area.  

So, how can we afford all this when we know education has taken some serious budget cuts??  Well, before this room we had a literacy room which held A LOT of books.  Some were dispersed to teachers to use in their small group instruction and some were transferred to the new room. As I said above too, we have had lots of teachers write grants over the last decade, which has added to our book inventory.  We are also a very large Title I school (almost 700 students) so we do get a good amount of funding each year which we have spent on adding to our book inventory.  In addition to all of that we held several fundraisers to buy more books (we had a penny war and a raffle for a Kindle Fire) which brought in a good amount of money.  This room was not created over night, it has been MANY years in the making but it is pretty awesome.  If you stuck with me through all of that, I hope you found it interesting!  I am sure it has opened up a ton more questions, feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have below : )

One more thing before I go, we have 1.5 more LONG days before we're off for Spring Break.  I needed something fun to do during these long, restless hours so I put together a couple Springy games.  You can check them out by clicking on the image below.

I'd be happy to give away a free copy, just leave your e-mail below and I'll pick a winner by tomorrow night so you could use it before you leave for break or when you return!


  1. Deana!
    I am forwarding this post to my entire first grade team AND to my district curriculum director. HOLY COW! I can't even wrap my brain around how INCREDIBLE your resource room is! MY DREAM come TRUE! May I come spend a day there with you???
    Happy to be a new follower of your blog!
    Stop by!!

  2. Thanks for sharing and showing us your resource room! I hope that the weather gets warmer so that I can FEEL spring and be ready to hippity hop!


  3. I wish our county gave us this type of freedom with our instruction! Did they feel the HM series did not meet CC Standards? We use it now and I am not sure they are going to change it
    I always love your tpt creations

  4. This is freaking amazing! I bow my head to you over and over again. We use HM (barely) because it isn't aligned to CCSS. I have my team teach the skills for each theme that are relevant to the CCSS and then we use trade books or novels to help teach the skills. I can't wait to see how curriculum publishing companies do when they create curriculum geared to the CCSS. I am excited to see if they do a good job.

    Thanks again, I am showing this to our leadership team and hopefully we can find a room that will work for this!


  5. We also have HM, which we have to use as we have nothing else and won't be getting anything else! I think they hit things too quickly...like mastering possessive nouns in a week? And making students try it four different ways in four days? Right...

    Your resource room is fantastic...what a labor of love for everyone involved!

    FIngers crossed for your cute Easter activities!

    tokyoshoes (at) hotmail (dot) com

    1. I know what you mean about the pace of HM! It's crazy! That is one thing I do like better about not using the basal, I can incorporate any skill I want and make it fit what we're doing, I don't have to worry about what's in the leveled readers or phonics readers for the week.

  6. I am so envious!!! I love the organization. My first year teaching I was at a school with a book room and I loved it. It made guided reading so wonderful and easy. The school I am at now doesn't have any kind of book room so I have had to create my "own" in my room which limits me due to resources. I want a book room so bad!! I would love your centers too. My kids need a little something before spring break!


  7. I am so impressed with your school's large resource of books! And the organization...oh my! These centers look great!

    Lindsey - lmburto@gmail.com

  8. Wow! Just wow! I want to teach at your school! You are so prepared and organized! This is a teacher's dream!


  9. This is beyond impressive. I have worked for two schools, both of them have/had book rooms, but nothing compared to this! I am dying to get my hands in something as organized as this.
    I have never taught using a basal and I would not know what to do without a book room. Kuddos to you and the team of people who made this happen!!!!!!!
    My Second Sense

  10. What an amazing book room! So full of resources and wonderful things! So awesome!
    Teaching in the Valley

  11. Deanna, this room is a dream. We were excited when our reading room got organized but yours is huge. I just blogged about your wonderful Non-Fiction Text Posters over at my blog. I love using them in my classroom. Please stop by and take a peek.
    Primary Paradise

  12. This room is incredible! I am sharing this post right now! I am so amazed!!

  13. SO JEALOUS! That room is AMAZING!! I hope I win your centers! :)


  14. What a great resource room! I love your products!!! I hope I win!